top of page

Chapter Twelve: Wiley Jones

Wiley Jones lived in Mesa in the early days and when I was driving freight teams to old Maricopa and freighted goods to the different towns in the Salt river valley, Wiley and I would frequently travel together, as you might say, for mutual protection. Wiley was driving six horses of his own, and I was driving any number from six up to sixteen, not my own. This was before Criswell and I bought the NL or Marlar cow ranch. One night when we were camped on the Gila river and the Pima Indians were enjoying their annual tiswin drunk, which was in the first part of September, I think. We were loaded with general freight, which is merchandise for stores, and we always kept a closer watch on our wagons so loaded than when we had bulk freight.

We could hear squaws yelling, dogs barking, and guns firing up above us a short distance on the reservation. Tiswin was made by soaking wheat in water and letting it ferment in great big ollas. If one saw it being manufactured, he certainly would not want to drink it. The harvest feast or tiswin drunk is in honor of their harvest god. A bountiful harvest and a drunken Indian is no more to be relied on than a drunken white man.

Wiley and I sat around our little fire and kept an eye on goods and horses. The Indian bucks would race by us on horseback at full speed, yell their bloodcurling cries, firing their six-shooters in the air, and queer to state, most all of them had a brand new leather belt, scabbard, and Colt's six-shooter. We were in no particular danger except for pilfering or turning our stock loose. They crossed the Gila river and raided the trading post on the other side, owned by two Italians. There was a good deal of yelling and shooting, and it was only a short time until Indians began riding by with flour, bacon, hams and tobacco in quantities.

While they may have been drunk, it struck me as though there was method in their drunkedness. As they passed our camp to cross the river and make the raid, we were cooking supper, and they first stopped and asked us for tobac. Upon our refusal, one kicked the frying pan over, and there went our bacon, and then another kicked over the coffee pot, and we had to like it. As far as we knew, they did not know which way it would turn, but they mounted their horses and away they went, firing into the air as they rode away.

After they had gone, Wiley said, "I had a queer experience with one of them quite a while ago, and I have thought of it many times since. (We did not dare go to sleep.) "I was raised in Mud town near the Salt river, about five miles from Mesa, and there were some Pima Indian families there, as the reservation line ran through Mud town, and Indian and white boys used to run together. One day, years after that, one of my Indian ex-playmates said to me, "Wiley, I know where there is an old Mexican mine in the Superstition mountains, and if you want to go I will show you." Wiley said, "All right, we go." They were grown men then, and the Indian had a family of three children. Wiley saddled his two lead horses that he used in freighting, a fine pair of greys, and they went up what is now the Apache trail, through where Goldfield now stands, over by First and Second water, then across the Paint mine and up on top of the mountain on the other side of LeBarge creek, Wiley said that the trail from the pass going up the mountain was almost gone, and that they had to throw in a good many rocks before they could lead their horses over. They then travelled along the mountain in a southeasterly direction until they could look down on a big mesa, and the Indian stopped.

Wiley said, "Well, go ahead, where is the mine?" The Indian looked at Wiley, and Wiley said that if that wasn't the worst scared Indian he ever saw, he certainly was the best actor. Wiley again told him to go on, when the Indian raised his arm, pointed ahead of him, and said, "boosca," and wheeled his horse around and beat it for home.

Wiley was angry, but he looked around for a while, then headed for home. When he got to Mesa and home, he heard that the oldest boy of his Indian friend had died during their absence the day before. That settled it, as the Indians are very superstitious, and Wiley wound up by saying, "Jim, there is a mine up there, and I believe that Indian took me very close to it."

Wiley had a brother by the name of Ed and an Indian friend of Ed's took him over the same trail, with the promise of showing him an old Mexican mine. This was several years after Wiley's experience. The Indian went to just about the point where Wiley's Indian said, "boosca," and repeated the same remark, pointing in the same direction, but would go no further.

bottom of page